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  • Buenos Aires (56)

    The home page for Buenos Aires travel tips at this site is: [l:travel/buenos-aires].

  • Mexico City (5)
  • Montreal (130)

    What a city!

    • Québec Cheeses (15)

      Local cheeses, all purchased from Montréal. Related: the [l:albums/travel/montreal/poutine Poutine!] pages contain information about fresh cheese curds. Cheese Shops

      • [l:node/1154 Fromagerie Atwater]
      • [l:node/144 Fromagerie Hamel]
      • [l:node/1162 La Maison du cheddar]
      • In a pinch and after-hours - grocery stores such as IGA, Provigo, Metro, Super C, etc. There is bound to be a good place to buy cheese from where ever you stay in Montreal.
      Note that the US has some very strange, bizarre, and restrictive food import policies - see [l:travel/montreal/schwartzs-jewish-deli#comment-5229 Meat, Cheese and US Border Crossings comment] for details.

    • Jazz Fest (29)

      Summer Jazz Festival. More than just jazz. More details at: [l:travel/montreal/montreal-jazz-festival]

    • Poutine! (10)

      A dish unique to Quebec. [l:http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20130531-how-the-quebecois-came-to-love-poutine BBC article: How the Quebecois came to love poutine]. Fries, Gravy, and fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds (fromage en grains) make poutine! An exclamation point seems necessary for this dish. The process of making cheese from milk goes through a step that results in curds. These are small chunks of solid cheese that are not yet pressed into molds for the final aging process. Fresh cheese curds only last a day or two, therefore are only available in places where a lot of cheese is manufactured. Cheddar cheese curds are available widely in Montreal, and it is the key ingredient of poutine. Fresh cheese curds are easy to recognize - they will make a squeaking sound when you eat them. From fast food joints to celebrated chefs, there is no shortage of places to get poutine in Montreal. [l:http://www.montrealpoutine.com/ Montreal Poutine] has good information on all poutine places in that city. Poutine fries should at least start crispy, and have sufficient amount of gravy to smother the fries. The run-down looking Poutine Lafleur has pretty good poutine. This is the standalone place on Rue Wellington and not the chain of the same name. Maamm Bolduc was not as good - not enough gravy or cheese - but many consider it one of the best, so worth checking out. Many places that claim to be famous, or are very old diners that should probably have good poutine, do not. French fries may be limp and not crisp, sauce may be tasteless, and they dish may not be warm enough. So for a short visit, just try the known-to-be-good places, do not experiment. La Cantine, closed in 2012. This bistro on Mont Royal had excellent poutine, in very nice surroundings. The fries stay nice and crispy to the last bite. There is a photo provided below, which now serves as a memory only! Surprisingly, some fast food joints have good poutine too - such as La Belle Province. And Frite Alors! has amazing fries, and good poutine too. 2013: Schwartz's has gotten onto the poutine act: [l:albums/travel/montreal/schwartzs-hebrew-delicatessen/schwartzs-poutine]. It is essentially fine as a novelty item, but the basic poutine elsewhere, and the smoked-meat sandwiches at Schwartz's, are both best eaten without anything else added to either dish.

    • Le Petit Alep (10)

      Great good, awesome ambiance. Near Jean Talon metro station.

    • Marché Adonis (4)

      Excellent middle-eastern grocery store - large selection of fruits, ready-made food, feta cheeses, tzatziki, and sweets. They now have a home page: [l:http://www.adonisproducts.com/pages/accueil_en.asp adonisproducts.com] DISCLAIMER: please note that this web page has no association with the Marché Adonis business. And this site is not in Quebec, so English readers are the majority here, and French may not be understood by most. Thank you!

    • Marché Jean-Talon (8)

      The Jean-Talon market is a couple of blocks east of the intersection of Jean-Talon and St-Laurent, near the the Jean-Talon metro station. Newly refurbished in 2005, visit this place for fresh fruit, groceries, cheeses, bread, fish, desserts. Great food available in the market itself, additionally, surrounding area is Little Italy, which has many good restaurants.

    • Schwartz's - Hebrew Delicatessen (12)

      Absolutely the most addictive food in the world, the best smoked-meat in the world.

    • STM - Métro and Bus (8)

      Montreal subway and bus system. External link: [l:http://metro.jaygees.net/english/index.html Pictures of the Stations of the Montreal Subway] by Julien Rosselet, 2005.

  • New York (19)
    • Flushing's Chinatown (9)

      Discover a variety of Chinese (and Korean, etc) food on Main St, Flushing - last stop on the #7 Subway line. This is the second Chinatown in NYC, probably because downtown NYC was not big enough to hold all these new restaurants. Good references: [l:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/07/29/dining/20080730_FLUSHING_INTERACTIVE.html NYTimes Flushing Interactive] graphic which also has a nice printout to take when visiting, and which links to the [l:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/30/dining/30flushing.html main article], which also has more tips from the readers in the article's comments section. A later article describes [l:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/dining/10chine.html Dongbei cai, or the food of the Northeast], the area was known earlier as Manchuria. The absolutely great things in this area: Sichuan food - spicy-hot with tongue-numbing Sichuan pepper ma-la experience, awesome lamb burgers with cumin and green chilies (in the Golden Mall, a collection of fast food restaurants in the basement off Main St - details in the NYT article), peking duck in snack form on a small pancake (fantastic Peking Duck, and sold at a window in a restaurant on the street), all sorts of dumplings, and the street stalls with $1 skewers of grilled spiced-meat ("Mongolian Barbecue?"). Finish off with bubble tea. And if you want to avoid eating out on the street, visit the Food Court in the Flushing Mall which has most of the similar foods. Best items here? 1. [l:http://xianfoods.com/ Xi'an Famous Foods] at 41-28 Main St Golden Mall Booth #36. It is confusing to find, enter the basement mall, take the left, cross two/three food booths, take a right, and this place on the left, probably the second/third store on the left. Just follow your nose and look for the sandwiches - their web site has pictures of their food. [Sep 2009] They are now in multiple places in Downtown Manhattan too! Those are easier to get to, still, worth visiting the original location to get a true Chinatown experience and better food (I think). NYT says: "His lamb stew is infused with fresh green chilies and cumin: stuffed into hot, griddled bread rolls, it makes the best sandwich in Flushing." ... "In the food court of the Golden Mall — a grand-sounding name for a basement warren of folding tables — is a man who goes by the name Shi Liangpi". Also good here: "his signature dish - liangpi, a dish of cold noodles in a sauce that hits every possible flavor category (sweet, tangy, savory, herbal, nutty and dozens of others)... in addition to four different sauces, and mountains of bean sprouts, slivered cucumbers and sprigs of cilantro. " My best choices: "N1" - Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles (around $6), and "B2" Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger (around $3). [Prices as of Nov 2011, Flushing location.] Pictures: [l:albums/travel/new-york/flushings-chinatown/xian-famous-foods-41-28-main-st] and the new sit-down restaurant [l:albums/travel/new-york/flushings-chinatown/biang-restaurant-41-10-main-st]. 2. The Peking Duck from the street window at the Corner 28 restaurant, picture present below. 3. The unassuming Spicy & Tasty restaurant at 39 07 Prince Street, just a block or two up from the Main St Subway station. Good Sichuan food - nice and spicy. 4. New World Mall at 40-21 Main St, and another entrance next to Macy's on Roosevelt Ave, right outside one of the subway entrances. This is all brand-spanking new , as of 2011. The mall has a enormous food court at the basement, with a huge variety of Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Taiwanese etc food. If you like hot-pot - there are multiple restaurants selling hot-pots! This Mall also has the excellent and huge grocery store J-Mart which is also worth a visit. 5. The Flushing Mall at 13331 39th Ave, Queens, NY. Three blocks from the Main St station. The lower level has the food courts - again, here too some menus are in Chinese only but there are pictures to order by. And you can eat in the mall which is good in summer, avoid the street heat and smell!. The food in this mall's food court is certainly unlike any other shopping mall in the US. And of course, it is a mall so has restrooms - certainly one thing that cannot be found on the street or in the Golden Mall. [Nov 2011] Still worth a visit, though I heard this place might be going away? The only problem - many places in this are of Flushing have menus in Chinese only.

Romados Poutine

Romados Poutine

Rotisserie Romados at 115 Rue Rachel Est in Montreal is famous for their grilled chicken.
Sure, chicken is fine, but the poutine is better! It comes in a huge portion and it is a big meal in itself. In addition to the standard poutine sauce they also add their signature spicy sauce. The dish also includes a quarter-chicken (cut-up and boneless). Price: CA$9 (2013).
This is mostly a takeout place though they do have a few seats that are filled most of the time.

Rotisserie Romados Phone: +1 514-849-1803. Open usually between 7 am to 9 pm.

2013 Montreal Jazz Festival

Pictures and video clips of some of the final four days at the 34th Edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival which ran from 2013-June 28 through July 7. Also included are some pictures from other events going on at the same time.

The best shows for me were as usual at either the Blues stage, or the Tropiques/Groove stages next to it:
Fatoumata Diawara
The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer
Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band

The pictures below have more info and some video snippet links too.
There is also a playlist of all snippets on YouTube.
And a few more photos, including full size photos, are at the Google Picasa Album

July 9th saw the start of another festival: Details on Festival de Percussions Longueuil 2013 opening show.

Official Montreal Jazz Festival site.
Montreal Completement Cirque site.
International Fireworks Festival site.
Festival de Percussions Longueuil 2013 site.

Schwartz's Poutine

Schwartz's Poutine

New in 2013!

It is more of a novelty than anything - the Schwartz's Sandwich is far better in terms of enjoying smoked meat. In any case, the best poutine is also the basic nothing-added version, so this smoked-meat added poutine doesn't really increase the pleasure. The poutine itself is good, given that the fries at Schwartz's are truly outstanding.

This is only served at the Schwartz's Next Door Take Out Counter (Schwartz's à côté), which is not open all the time - may only be open during summer rush hours, for example, and closed in winter, etc.

Le Club Sandwich - Poutine

Le Club Sandwich - Poutine

Le Club Sandwich open 24/7. Huge place, cool old fashioned decor.
Near metro Papineau in Montreal at 1570 Ste Catherine St.
Way off the tourist track, but useful to know for late night poutine.
Excellent poutine. Very hearty, thick fries, and they really put on the gravy, which makes it even better.

Absolute Bagels - 2788 Broadway, New York

Absolute Bagels - 2788 Broadway, New York

2788 Broadway (between 107th and 108th St) - near Columbia U / Upper West Side NYC.
Phone: +1-212-932-2052 and +1-212 932-2105

These bagels are the best in New York City and therefore in all of the US. Perfect combination of chewy exterior and light interior. And they taste great too. Of course, people who like their bagels dense and chewy may not appreciate these bagels, but try these once and you might just change your mind. My second choice bagel place in NYC is Russ & Daughters at 179 East Houston Street, near Chinatown. Have tried all the usual other well-known places, but Absolute Bagels has the best bagels.

Mornings - especially weekends, be prepared for long lines. And if you want sesame bagels, arrive a few hours before closing - they may run out. This is important for me since every few months or so I buy a dozen plus eight bagels from NYC to carry back to Boston - really a downer when they run out of bagels. Best to call if you are going to get there late afternoon or evenings.

Unlike Montreal bagels, NYC bagels are pretty big. Which actually may be what allows them to freeze very well. They easily last 3-6 months in the freezer, and thaw out nicely, and still taste great. No need to slice them before freezing too, in fact, they are better off not sliced beforehand. Montreal bagels are good too, but they just don't freeze well - they don't taste as good after a stint in the freezer, have to eat them fresh.

Absolute Bagels Price: $12/dozen bagels (2012). They also have a small seating area, and also offer the usual toppings - cream cheeses, salmon, etc.

Biang! Restaurant - 41-10 Main St

Biang! Restaurant - 41-10 Main St

From their home page: Biang! Restaurant:
"While Xi'an Famous Foods is great for fast and casual dining, we wanted to present our food in a chic venue with full waiter-service, and that is how Biang! came to be."

More info at these pages: Flushing's Chinatown and Xi'an Famous Foods

Xi'an Famous Foods - 41-28 Main St

Xi'an Famous Foods - 41-28 Main St

41-28 Main St, in the underground Golden Mall, Flushing, Queens, New York.

More info: Flushing's Chinatown.

2012 Montreal Jazz Festival

Writeup, along with some video clips also available: Montreal Jazz Festival 2012

À propos de Stern - Montreal High Lights 2012

À propos de Stern - Montreal High Lights 2012

The 2012 Montréal en Lumière (Montreal High Lights) Festival - visited it the weekend of Feb 18.

It is cold, yet Montrealers find no problem enjoying live shows and music and food out on the streets!
Here's one of the cool shows: A Propos De Stern
It takes something I noticed just this year to a new level. This year I noticed a some buildings in Montreal showing animated pictures projected on the side of buildings.
This specific show is really engrossing. And the props and movement in the images fit very well with the windows on the wall of this building!

In addition to that they had a number of other activities. The program was dedicated to Wallonia-Brussels regions, so they were selling Belgian (French? No!) Fries, with Mayo of course.
Their blurb states: "Among the multitude of attractions, get ready for a mind-blowing new-generation interactive slide, projections and lighting displays redesigning the facades of the surrounding architecture, spectacular video mapping displays on the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan (3 displays nightly), illuminated musical spectacles, characters in illuminated costumes created especially for the MEL…"

I could not stay for the full festival - on Feb 25, they have a whole night of festival activities! Nuit blanche à Montréal: "Calling all nighthawks and nocturnal friends—Saturday, February 25, 2012 is the date set for the wildest night of the year!"... Maybe next year a US holiday will fall around Nuit blanche so I can make it up here then ... :-)

Some video snippets:
À propos de Stern - Snippet 1
À propos de Stern - Snippet 2

Just in case some links above stop working, here's the writeup from the High Lights web site:

KanBai - Fish in Fiery Hot Sauce

KanBai - Fish in Fiery Hot Sauce

Small Restaurant KanBai, at 1813 Ste. Catherine St. W. (near St. Mathieu St., Guy Metro). Phone: 514-933-6699

This is an amazing fish dish. Poached fish filet in hot chili soup is what it is called in the menu, basically fish in fiery hot sauce with lots of Sichuan peppercorns, and buried in the bottom layer and not visible in the picture is a layer of sprouts.
Healthy, and hot!

The portion as shown is huge - more than enough for two people. To be eaten with rice. (If one person eats all that, bound to make you feel sick! Starts off great, then the tongue numbs and eating this loses all pleasure.)

As mentioned in the Restaurants & Food Markets - Montréal page, this is a somewhat strange place with Japanese-sounding name and decor, but totally authentic Chinese food. The menu is also not explicit about Sichuan - many dishes are the real thing, not the fake Szechuan Chicken found in North American restaurants. Dishes here contain real hot red and green pepper, with generous amounts of the Sichuan peppercorn. So you have read the descriptions to recognize dishes - for example there is nothing called Dan-Dan noodles, but it is present - just named something like "Noodles with minced pork and hot chilli sauce"!